A new resolution introduced in the U.S. Congress would apologize to the people of the Marshall Islands for the effects of U.S. nuclear testing over more than a decade during the Cold War.

Sens. Mazie Hirono and Ed Markey and Rep. Katie Porter introduced the resolution on March 1, which is the anniversary of a U.S. hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll.

“The 67 nuclear devices detonated by the United States contaminated their land, led to their displacement and continued health impacts,” Hirono said in a press release. “This apology calls attention to what we did to the Marshallese and raises awareness about the need to do more to undo this harm.”

Senator Mazie Hirono speaks to media at the NEX food court after a tour of the Red Hill fuel facility. The tour was closed to the media.
Sen. Mazie Hirono says that the nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands caused lasting harms that merit an official apology. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The resolution also recognizes the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and three Pacific nations: the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The U.S. is in the process of renegotiating international agreements with each that strengthen their economies and U.S. national security in the Pacific.

Kelani Silk, founder and executive director of Marshallese Youth of Orange County, said in a statement that thousands of Marshallese have been displaced by both the nuclear legacy and worsening effects of climate change.

“Our government used the Marshallese as guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation and turned ancestral islands into dumping grounds for nuclear waste,” U.S. Rep. Katie Porter from California said in a press release.

“By finally taking responsibility for the harm we caused, the United States can send a powerful signal in the region and around the world that we honor our responsibilities and are committed to the Indo-Pacific region.”

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